Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Flowers for Mrs. John Barbara Hagerman Burns, because we forgot 150 years ago, in memory of her brother, Andrew
Here she is, behind her famous husband, Barbara Cecelia Hagerman Burns, wife and, it transpires sister of civilian combatants during Lee's invasion. It would be a tough few weeks for Barbara. And who knew?
We know enough of Old John Burns to know his wife's life was probably, well- a little wearing. We've even seen her, thank you Matthew Brady. Standing in the doorway of their clapboard home, hands on his shoulders, she looks pleasant, placid, maybe proud, from what we can see of this tiny image.
She may or may not have been in mourning, in this photograph. Or may not have heard- her brother, in Hagerstown, had unbelievably, shouldered a musket and gone off to shoot those pesky Rebels. he, too was wounded- and was to die. His name was Andrew Hagerman. Two civilian combatants, one family.
Her name was Barbara, by the way. As a younger woman, christened Cecelia, or just Celia, tough to tell. Maiden name Hagerman, her siblings either lived in Adams county or weirdly, Hagerstown, Maryland. Where the invasion built up some steam, before rolling over on up through farmland into Pennsylvania. Barbara's house became awfully famous scant weeks later.... as did the name ' Burns '.
Harper's Weekly helped hugely- they just loved the idea a civilian was out there, ' popping awa y' for his country. And should have. But there was more to this house and story.
None of these names were famous as Lee's army snacked their way through lush larders and laden orchards. Mary Virginia Wade and her mother cared for a small, disabled boy named Isaac Trostle, taken into their care, as well as a her sister's new little boy. Elizabeth Thorn turned her 2 small boys out to play ampngst tombstones in Evergreen cemetery, keeping watch over the two year old while beginning to walk a little funny- the pregnancy made it tough, at 6 months. The Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg frantically cared for and fed countless souls camped in their front yard and Tillie Pierce watched her nervous parents send stock out of town. No one knew these names. They were just people War was to roll over, and soon.
Elizabeth Thorn's boys, albeit post battle, turned out to either play or watch each other. Elizabeth would not be ' famous ' until gosh, a century later. Entertained generals from both armies, buried over 100 dead and forgotten until someone- found her.
John Burns, as ants in the pants as he'd ever been since his first war, was ear marked for History books- a sincerely brave man, sincerely annoyed an enemy would show his face anywhere near his home. Little long in the tooth but no one would tell him so, least of all Barbara. You just know she tried, and mightily, and gave up, watching him stomp off, flint lock in hand, into the chaos. " The only civilian to fight in the invasion ", he would be wounded but survive.
No need to re-tell John Burn's story- if you're not familiar, please use the search feature here? Long threads are a snore, I know. It would make it far too long, honest.
So get this, from late summer, 1863
But John Burns, not to take a thing away from his deed, wasn't the only one. In Hagerstown, Maryland, as Confederates overwhelmed the small town, had she but known it Mrs. John Barbara Hagerman Burns had already gone down in History, just not the books- as related to another, civilian combatant. Her brother, Andrew. Now, I've researched, looked, poked and prodded. She had a brother, Andrew- he lived in Hagerstown and nothing can be found of him post-1863.
Andrew Hagerman, Civilian Combatant, the invasion, 1863, and he died- and was John Burn's brother in law.
Barbara, in Evergreen. If I can find Andrew, will ask he be connected, seems only right after all these years.
In those days, you could not really get away with writing whatever nonsense you wished- not this variety. I am still looking- and will find the genuine proof. It's there. Yes, I have sourced the long, dull genealogies, etc- unless someone asks, would rather not post them.
OH! Another civilian, an Emmitsburg boy of 15, put on a blue suit and fought. He was wounded, too. There's a diary speaking of his experience- but no proof as yet. It was just a blue set of clothing, not a uniform. And no relationship with poor Barbara Cecelia Burns, just very interesting- and forgotten.